Thursday, September 13, 2012

Elements of Drama in the Early Childhood Classroom

Dramatic play includes role-playing, puppetry, and fantasy play. It does not require interaction with another.
Socio-dramatic play is dramatic play with the additional component of social interaction with either a peer or teacher (Mayesky, 1988; Smilansky, 1968).

Creative dramatics involves spontaneous, creative play. It is structured and incorporates the problem solving skills of planning and evaluation. Children frequently reenact a scene or a story. Planning and evaluating occurs in creative dramatics (Chambers, 1970, 1977)

Drama: What It Is and What It Isn't

Drama is the portrayal of life as seen from the actor's view. In early childhood, drama needs no written lines to memorize, structured behavior patterns to imitate, nor is an audience needed. Children need only a safe, interesting environment and freedom to experiment with roles, conflict, and problem solving. When provided with such an environment, children become interested in and will attend to the task at hand and develop their concentration (Way, 1967). 

Opportunities for dramatic play that are spontaneous, child-initiated, and open-ended are important for all young children. Because individual expression is key, children of all physical and cognitive abilities enjoy and learn from dramatic play and creative dramatics. In early childhood, the term dramatic play is most frequently used and the process is the most important part, not the production. Dramatic play expands a child's awareness of self in relation to others and the environment. Drama is not the production of plays usually done to please adults rather than children (Wagner, 1976).

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Soap Crayons

This is a great rainy day (or any day) activity!

These are fun to write with in the tub or to use when washing little hands. Also makes a wonderful handmade gift from the kids to a relative.

1 1/2 cup pure soap powder (such as Ivory Snow - or finely grate Ivory soap)
Food coloring
1/2 cup water
Small containers (such as ice cube trays or plastic film containers)

Tip: Be sure your container's opening does not narrow, as in that of a baby food jar, or your soap will have to be broken to be removed.

Mix water and soap powder together.
Add enough food coloring to get the color you want.
Pour the colored soap into small containers or mold it into crayon shapes and let harden before using.

Tip: For multiple colors, divide the mixture into smaller containers before adding food coloring.

Source: Family Education

Friday, August 24, 2012

Movie Buffs

Do your children have a favorite movie that your family has watched over and over? Challenge the kids to act out a single scene in the movie (of their choice). Make popcorn and watch the movie up until that point. Pause it at their command and let them act it out. Praise them on how close the dialogue and singing was to the original movie and how well they have learned it. Encourage them to choose another scene from this or another movie and up the ante with costumes, animal noises, sets, or any other element they might have left out. Even the youngest child will enjoy this fun rainy day activity.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


If it is true that "we learn by doing", then dramatic play is the best teacher. Place children of any age in a situation that is natural for them, and have them creatively problem solve to improve their math skills. Here are some ideas to put those practices into play:

Math can be taught through a pretend trip to the grocery store or in a play store area. Adding and subtracting are sure to be utilized, as well as grouping, sorting, and values.

During water or sand play, have children fill a larger container form a cup and ask "I wonder which one holds more cups?" to increase counting skills as well as spatial skills and concepts such as depth, weight, and volume while appealing to their curiosity.

Here are some other ways that were noticed:
1. Classifying. One girl, Anna, took out all the plastic bugs from the container and sorted them by type of bug and then by color.
2. Exploring magnitude (describing and comparing the size of objects). When Brianna brought a newspaper to the art table to cover it, Amy remarked, "This isn't big enough to cover the table."
3. Enumerating (saying number words, counting, instantly recognizing a number of objects, or reading or writing numbers). Three girls drew pictures of their families and discussed how many brothers and sisters they had and how old their siblings were.
4. investigating dynamics (putting things together, taking them apart, or exploring motions such as flipping). Several girls flattened a ball of clay into a disk, cut it, and made "pizza."
5. Studying pattern and shape (identifying or creating patterns or shapes, or exploring geometric properties). Jennie made a bead necklace, creating a yellow-red color pattern.
6. Exploring spatial relations (describing or drawing a location or direction). When Teresa put a dollhouse couch beside a window, Katie moved it to the center of the living room, saying, "The couch should be in front of the TV."

What else would you add?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dress Up and Development

Why are dress up games and dramatic play so important for childhood development?

There are many benefits to dramatic play and dress up, and it’s important that you set aside time each and every day to play together with your child.  Let’s look at some examples of things that dramatic play helps kids do:

Explore issues in their lives – small children have difficulty grasping things like a new baby, a sick relative, or a move.  Dramatic play allows you and your child to explore the changes that are about to occur, in a fun and exciting way.  How about pretending that their dolls are sick, and they must go to the hospital to get better?  Or maybe Mr. Bear has to move to a different town and try to make new friends with the other bears in town?  The possibilities are endless- and you are free to discuss fears and concerns with your child in an imaginative way.

Experiment with different behaviors – playing together doesn’t come naturally to kids.  They must work on cooperating with others and dealing with anger and frustration when it arises.  One of the best ways to do this is through dress up.  Wouldn’t you much rather your child gets upset with a stuffed animal, then a fellow playmate?

Practice decision-making/problem solving – if there are four kids and two cookies, how can you divide them up so that everyone gets their share?  Try that experiment with a room full of toddlers, and someone is going to end up in tears.  Act it out at home in the safety of dramatic play, and a life lesson will be learned.

Process different points of view – How do you help your child become sympathetic with the world around them?  You teach them what it feels like to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.  Dress up allows your child to be anyone that they want to be, and helps them understand where the other person is coming up.  Remember playing school as a kid?  Being the teacher gave you a whole new perspective on what it was like to be a student.

Learn new concepts – there are so many other things that your child could gain from dramatic play.  Math can be taught through a pretend trip to the grocery store for example.

Dramatic play helps your child become a valuable part of the adult world, while keeping them safe and secure.  Don’t be afraid to let your child lead the way, and listen when they speak.  You may just gain a better understanding of the world too!

Source: Hoenschel Couture

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A-C Ideas for Themed Play

Stuck for a new idea on what to play with the kids? Here's a list to jump start your creativity, and theirs! What else can you think of?


Animal shelter
Art gallery
Artist’s studio
Author’s office


Beauty shop
Birthday party
Book Store
Buried treasure/pirate
Bus or train


Candy shop
Car wash
Chinese restaurant
Clown show
Covered wagon